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Guptan Nair dead

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Special Correspondent

A dominant figure in the cultural sphere of the State

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Writer, critic, scholar and educationist S. Guptan Nair passed away in a private hospital here today. He was 86.

He had been under treatment for a lung infection for the last few weeks and the end came at 10 a.m.

Prof. Guptan Nair was born at Oachira near Kayamkulam on August 22, 1919. He passed out with BA Honours from Government Arts College here in 1941 and started his career as a Malayalam lecturer in University College in 1945.

He served as University Grants Commission (UGC) professor in several Government colleges and retired as Head of the Department of Malayalam from Calicut University. He was chairman of the Kerala Sahithya Akademi and the Sahithya Pravarthaka Cooperative Society (SPCS).

He was conferred the Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, the State Government's highest literary prize, last year for his contributions to Malayalam language and literature. He received the Kerala Sahithya Akademi award in 1966, the Kendra Sahithya Akademi award in 1984, and the Vayalar award in 1998. He also won the awards instituted in the name of G. Sankarakurup, C. Achutha Menon, Lalithambika Antharjanam and R. Sankaranarayanan Thampi.

A dominant figure in the literary and cultural spheres of the State for nearly half a century, Prof. Guptan Nair was a critic-visionary who probed the human values and aesthetics of literature that surpassed political affiliations. He adopted a simple and lucid writing style even when he dealt with abstruse literary topics. A multi-faceted personality, his interests included music, acting and sports.

His important works include `Isangalkappuram,' `Kranthadarsikal,' `Sristiyum Srashtavum,' `Tagore,' and `Asthiyude Pookkal: Changampuzha Kaviyum Kavithayum.' His last work was an autobiography, `Manasasmarami.'

As a teacher, Prof. Guptan Nair had a vast student following and always strove to pass on traditional values to the younger generation. He was a conscience-keeper of the non-political city elite and presided over the Education Protection Forum which led a campaign against student politics. He is survived by wife, son and two daughters.

Prominent persons from all walks of life, including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his Cabinet colleagues, paid homage to the critic. The body was kept for public homage in the VJT Hall here in the afternoon. In his condolence message, Governor R.L. Bhatia said Prof. Guptan Nair was a true savant of Malayalam whose reflections on life and art would long be remembered.

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